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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Musings: The law of Least effort – Part 2/2


This is part 2/2 of the blog. Part 1 of this blog here…Part 1

Argument 5: This is the Prativada (Counter argument) from my end.

I keep asking my friends “Tell me the difference between Yoga and Aerobics / running or more broadly Internal Arts and External arts. If you are coming across some of the following concepts for the first time, then you are doing a favor to yourself by reading this further. This is not stated with an air of arrogance, but my conviction in the following concepts are so deep that these basics are lost in the din of our materialistic and fast paced life. This blog may just point you in the right direction as something like this acted as a pointer to me few years back.

  • The fundamental difference from a metabolic and fitness angle between Internal and external arts is that Internal arts are ANABOLIC and the external arts are CATABOLIC. In one angle they both represent two sides of the same coin but their effect on our physiology and psychology are different. Some of the other characteristics of the Internal arts as understood by me are as follows:
    • Internal arts believes that the everything evolved from a single source and in this universe everything is a manifestation of energy from that source and this energy can be cultivated and nourished for the well being of the society / individual. As Tamil poet Bharathiyar said, “Engu kaaninum Shakthiyada”. Internal arts takes you closer to nature and merges you with it over time.
    • Internal arts refers to Yoga, advanced forms of martial arts like Tai Chi, in my opinion even Indian classical dances like Bharatnatyam…
    • Indian scriptures emphasizes that there are many ways to achieve Nirvana / Samadhi. Apart from Bhakthi Yoga, Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga it highlights that disciplines like Ashtanga Yoga, Music (nada Brahman) and more interestingly Bharatnatyam and Wrestling (Mal Yudh) are also means to the ends.
    • How do we nurture this energy for vitality or to perform miracles? My understanding is that its a 4 step process.
      • Step 1 - Preparation of our mind using techniques like Yama and Niyama as stated by the Ashtanga Yoga. These are observances and abstinences that cultivates a pure energy within us which is cultivated with qualities like love, kindness, compassion and mercy. Every religious, spiritual or arts school insist on this as the first step at different depths.
      • Step 2 - Preparing the body so that its fit and aligned with the force of gravity. If you have been wondering why i have been harping on the concept of gravity so much in the earlier part of the blog is explained here. The fundamental requirement for any development for fitness or for meditation or even for performing miracles is to understand where your center of gravity is and align yourself perfectly to that.

If your Yoga master has not talked about the importance of gravity and the need to align your body with it, then I strongly recommend that you quit the class NOW. The ultimate objective of all the Asanas is to train the body in such a way that the body is perfectly in shape and alignment with gravity.

Sage Patanjali defined Asanas in just 2 words “Sukham Sthiram Asanam”. It requires extreme levels of wisdom to be so concise and stingy with words yet it conveys the entire meaning.

Sukham means that which is comfortable. Sthiram means that which is stable. Any posture that meets these 2 criteria qualifies to be an Asana. Yet both the qualities can be fulfilled only when our body weight is aligned and distributed along the center of gravity. All instructions to sit like a bell in lotus posture (Padmasana) that keep your back straight, align your neck blah blah are only to align your center of gravity perfectly.

This is not just in Yoga, if you see the stance, forms and movements in Bharatnatyam or in Tai Chi it is the same concept. You just need to be sensitive to this and you would find every thing like Sumo, Wrestling, Judo are all not about brutal force being applied but use techniques and understand the force leverage points so that one can take opponent’s alignment out of place.

Hence fundamental to any fitness program is the alignment of our weight to gravity. This is not the end but necessary condition as a starting point. Alas, we have been living a life that is so gross that subtle force of gravity which has been acting on us since we are born is either ignored or absolutely strange to us that we blink and scratch our heads when some one asks us to find our center of gravity.

There is an higher concept called “rooting” which we will avoid in this discussion. Lets go to the 3rd step in the 4 step process.

      • Step 3 - This is the classical Pranayama or Chi development program (Chi Kung, Qigong as called in Chinese). One can start this only when they have mastered the art of alignment with gravity. Today we see people offering meditation and Pranayama classes on the fly which is at best would not offer any result and at worst may do some irreversible damage to the students.

Its difficult to explain the power of Chi / prana.. I am sharing few links below. These videos changed my perception about life and have had a great impact on me. You would realize that the “Miracles are the science of subtlety subject to the laws of nature which we don’t understand and nothing more”.

Bubble Energy demonstration:

Discourse on Heart Sutra: This is a 4 part series, try watching all the 4 parts in Youtube.

Ask some one to run for life and demonstrate anything that remotely resembles this capability.

      • The 4th step in the process is to enhance our consciousness, mindfulness and awareness through Dhyana and meditation. Even for Chi gung exercises the importance of applying our mind and mentally being there in the exercise is very very critical.

Without mentally being there you cannot achieve anything. If you agree to this then tell me how someone running with an iPOD hanging out of their hips listening to music, oblivious of where and how one is running can generate any useful energy within our body?

  • Its generally accepted that Internal arts are superior to external arts for the above mentioned reasons and the point i was trying to make was there are more evolved forms of exercises available to improve our fitness levels and enhance our consciousness than the mindless running.

Now let me spend some time to highlight the “Law of Least Effort”.

  • You would agree Prana / Chi management is more evolved than the Asanas and meditation is more evolved than Pranayama. If this is the case you would notice that from movement this evolution leads to stillness. In Asanas body moves and aligns itself. In Pranayama breath moves and body is more or less fixed. In meditation movement of both the body and breath are minimal. So more evolved your efforts are the lesser the outward / physical movements. By the same logic walking is more evolved than running and Asanas more evolved than walking.
  • Notice people doing Tai Chi the movements – they are so slow and it is called as Moving Meditation.
  • The law of least effort is fantastically highlighted by Lao Tzu: “Sit still and do nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows!”. We need many life times to understand and appreciate the wisdom in this quote.
  • As Deepak Chopra puts it “In Vedic Science, the age-old philosophy of India, this principle is known as the principle of economy of effort, or "do less and accomplish more." Ultimately you come to the state where you do nothing and accomplish everything. This means that there is just a faint idea, and then the manifestation of the idea comes about effortlessly. What is commonly called a "miracle" is actually an expression of the Law of Least Effort.
  • Nature's intelligence and actions are effortless, frictionless, spontaneous. The earth rotates around its axis and revolves around the sun effortlessly. It is non-linear; it is intuitive, holistic, and nourishing. And when you are in harmony with nature, when you are established in the knowledge of your true Self, you can make use of the Law of Least Effort.

To sum up, the current day mindless marathon / running is not the best form of keeping fitness and there are more evolved forms available and known to mankind. As our consciousness grows and ignorance reduces we tend to become more evolved and in the process we engage our mind in everything we do and give a new meaning to the word “BEing”. Once the awareness is full and mind is in the present moment then physical movements become superfluous as vitality and wisdom dawns on us without any great effort. This is what many call “The law of least effort”.

More evolved forms (aka) lazy beings like me practice Sukhasana or Shavasana for better levels of fitment :). A bean bag may help you in the process to attain Nirvana. This takes you closer to the ultimate level of “DO NOTHING and ACCOMPLISH EVERYTHING”.

If you agree with come join the club and promote the concept and philosophy The law of Least effort as a way of life :)…

As I am completing this blog, my kids are getting impatient and I am “running” now to play with them.


Yours Runningly,

Happy Reading!


As a post script I am adding this beautiful interpretation of Einstein’s theory of relativity supporting the expressions on this blog, which i read today from OSHO’s book “Emotional Wellness”. I am quoting from the book…

…” When you sit in the lotus posture (Padmasana) the gravitation has the least effect on you…. your spine is absolutely straight and the whole body relaxed. And it is the gravitation that kills you; the more you are affected by gravitation, the more you are pulled towards the grave. It became perfectly clear when Einstein declared that if we can create vehicles that move at the speed of light, then people who travel in those vehicles will not age – not at all….. His idea was that at the speed of light, aging stops…. But Einstein was not aware of the yoga explanation. The yoga explanation is that the person would come back to the earth - the same age because he was out of the field of gravitation …. thousands of yogis have lived longer than anybody else, just sitting in that posture, gravitation has the least effect on them…..”

The key message in this blog is,  “As a nation with rich tradition, culture and phenomenal science & metaphysical knowledge we do have most of the things which are better / superior than what we have imported few decades back… more so in the world of fitness and good living. Let realize it.


  1. Well written again, Ragu! The concepts evolved from multiple disciplines - science, arts, sports, philosophy, yoga, tai chi, etc. - explained well yet again in a humorous and interesting way to drive home your point, i.e. justify laziness! :)

    With the World Cup gripping on, we can almost extend the concept of "Do Nothing and Accomplish Everything" further to say that the highest form of evolution may be attained, leading straight to Nirvana, by sprawling on the bean bag in front of TV!

  2. Thanks Ashish... I just added an interesting interpretation of Einstein's theory of relativity by Osho as a PS to Part 2 of the article... Check it out.